The contributions of immigrants to social security reached 1.5 billion euros in 2022, an increase of 19% compared to 2021, revealed this Tuesday the vice president of the Social Security Institute (ISS).
At a hearing at the parliamentary committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees, Catarina Marcelino advanced data for 2022 on immigrants who are net contributors to the social security system, specifying that the 630,000 workers who contributed 1,500 million euros represent 13 % of workers registered with Portuguese social security.
The head of the ISS, together with heads of the Tax Authority, the Foreigners and Borders Service and the Authority for Working Conditions, was heard in parliament at a hearing requested by the PCP in the context of combating human trafficking and aiding illegal immigration for exploitation of immigrant workers.
Catarina Marcelino highlighted that “the evolution in the last seven years is very positive”, noting that since 2015 “the weight of workers with foreign nationality has increased from 3% to 13%”.
“In 2021, the balance between contributions and social benefits paid relative to the foreign population was (positive in) almost one billion euros compared to 2015, which in that year were 350 million”, he said, stressing that these results and this evolution, especially in the last year, “they also had the effect of facilitating mechanisms for registration and adhesion to the system”.
For the vice-president of the ISS, these data objectively show that “immigrants are an asset to the system and that they contribute positively to the sustainability of social security”.
However, he highlighted the cases of immigration, in particular from countries outside Europe, with “social vulnerabilities” for not speaking Portuguese, for lack of social and family network, cultural decontextualization, lack of knowledge of the social organization and institutions of the host country, who have weaknesses and who are sometimes victims of labor exploitation and are at the mercy of situations of great need.
According to Catarina Marcelino, these flows of immigrants come mainly from Asia, Morocco and more recently from citizens from Timor-Leste.
Social security profiled these immigrants in fragile situations as isolated people, men, of working age, without a primary support network, without sources of income or very low income, irregular work, ineligible for social benefits, low level of command of the Portuguese language and low level of education.
“In these situations of greater vulnerability and social exclusion, the ISS provides support within the scope of the subsystem of social action, which materializes in accommodation, food, access to medication and other essential goods, as well as psychosocial support”, he said, indicating that the ISS opened seven welcoming spaces in the districts of Beja, Braga, Bragança, Porto and Santarém with capacity for 230 people.
Since the creation of the first reception centre, in Beja in August 2022, this equipment has had a 100% occupancy. Catarina Marcelino also stated that 23% of the contacts made to the social emergency line in 2022 were from immigrants, a total of 848, and in January 116 foreigners called, representing 31% of the total.